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Virgin Media, cold-calling & privacy

# 21 February 2008, 20:09 by matt

According to an article by Scott Colvey in the Technology section of today’s Guardian, people claiming to be Virgin Media employees have been cold-calling customers as part of a “customer services review”... and have then been asking them to confirm their identity by providing their password and/or home address.

Sounds very much like a scam… yet apparently it really is VM doing this. But should they be doing it? And can you trust such a call?

They claim they have to ask for sensitive information such as this because of compliance with the Data Protection Act…yet the DPA mentions nothing about having to ask your customers for their passwords when you cold-call them.

It also goes against the following advice from the Home Office:

“Never give personal or account details to anyone who contacts you unexpectedly. Be suspicious, even if they claim to be from your bank or the police.”

If you call a company yourself, then of course it is to be expected that you should have to confirm your identity. However, if a company (or someone claiming to be from a company) calls you, it is certainly not sensible to give them any sensitive or security related information, as how do you actually know that it really is that company calling you, and not someone trying to scam or con you?

VM claimed that other major organisations also ask for password confirmation when calling customers, as part of DPA compliance, & cited NatWest as an example.

NatWest however told the Guardian the following:

“Be cautious if you’re asked for personal information. Remember that they have instigated the call and should already know who you are. NatWest will never ask for your full security number or password.”

Wise words.

Original Guardian article:

Why is Virgin Media asking customers for their passwords?

Discussion thread at Cable Forum:

‘Stupid Stupid Virgin Media’

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